International award winning actress, model, and newfound recording artist Priyanka Chopra knows a thing or two about traveling the world. She’s no stranger to embarking on long flights across continents and oceans to discover new and exciting parts of the globe. Born in India, Chopra moved to the United States as a teenager and spent her formative years in Northeastern cities like Boston and New York. At seventeen she was crowned Miss India 2000, and went on to win the title of Miss World that same year. The pageant catapulted her film career, and Chopra has over 50 motion pictures under her belt to date.
Expanding her creative vision into the world of music, Chopra released her debut global single, “Exotic,” featuring Pitbull in July. With another single due out before the end of the year, and an album set for release early in 2014, Chopra’s position as a global superstar puts her at the forefront of a new mode of pop culture–one in which national borders no longer play a role in determining how music spreads.
In addition to her musical talents, Chopra was recently announced as the new face of Guess. Helping reshape what the face of a covergirl looks like, Chopra’s got a hand in America’s favorite sport: football. She’s the opening act for The NFL’s Thursday Night Football. The franchise adopted Chopra’s single “In My City,” as the official theme song that blares through the TV before each game.
In honor of her Thursday Night Football partnership, we will be rolling out our exclusive interview with Priyanka every Thursday for the next three weeks. This week find out more about her favorite places in the world, the kinds of international destinations that stick out in her memory, and the one time she truly experienced culture shock.
Check back next Thursday, November 21 for Icons: Priyanka Chopra Pt. II.
How did “Exotic” come to be and how did you connect with Pitbull to make it a reality?
The idea of “Exotic” came from RedOne actually, who is my producer. He came up with the idea of choosing word to describe me and decided on exotic. He said to me “That’s who you are.” We knew we wanted a rapper on it and it really sounded like a Pitbull song. So we sent it to Pitbull, he loved it, he wrote on it and he sent it back to us. He’s amazing. He’s been so supportive of the song. And more than anything, he’s become a friend and that’s really nice to have.
That is so great. Have you really been to Mumbai, Cuba, and Rio like the lyrics of the song?
I’ve been to Mumbai and Rio. Cuba is still on my list.
Rio is incredible. Do you have some favorite beaches around the world?
The beach actually is my favorite place. If I could go somewhere and pass away peacefully, I would want to do that on a beach. Bali is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen because it has grey-black sand. I love South East Asia–Thailand, Krabi, and Koh Samui–really blue waters and it’s absolutely beautiful. And of course the Mediterranean, I mean nothing compares to the weather, the beaches at the Med.
Describe your perfect getaway–maybe a trip that you’ve taken or a trip that you’re dreaming to take?
I think my trip to Bali. I went with a few girlfriends about four, three years ago. It was one of my favorite trips. We rented a house on the beach where we had our staff, own housekeeping, room service and valet. We had an Olympic-sized pool that opened out onto the beach. The sand was black and I could see the clear blue water every morning when I woke up from my room. It was one of my best vacations ever because it was just a bunch of girls creating havoc in this huge mansion. We had a great time.
Sounds amazing. Tell me about the craziest hotel you’ve ever stayed at?
Well you know for me, hotels are supposed to be opulent. But when they reach such a level of opulence, that’s what I think is crazy. The Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi is hugely opulent, everything is gold, there are huge rooms and chandeliers. You have to take a golf cart to go everywhere and for me that’s insane because everything is made out of real gold, it’s really funny. If you steal their cutlery you could probably sell it for thousands.
What’s your favorite city to party in? Where do you like to go clubbing and dancing?
It’s between New York and Miami. Honestly, I love being out in Miami. You have to be in that kind of mood to party. If you want to stay up all night and just act completely crazy with no one judging you, definitely Miami. And New York is one of my favorite cities in the whole world. I think if you want to meet people from anywhere in the world, different kinds of people, different life styles, New York is the place to be.
There are some amazing restaurants in New York too. Is there a memorable dinner or maybe a dinner that you’ve had in an unexpected setting that you can tell us about?
Well actually I was filming a movie in Langkawi in Malaysia and I don’t remember the name of the hotel—I think it was a Four Seasons, but I’m not sure. My room had a pier, like a jetty, that would go into the ocean and all the rooms across the beach connected in the middle where there was an amazing restaurant. It was just right in the middle of the ocean, because it was shallow and you could walk back into your room straight from the restaurant. They lit up the ocean bed so you could see fish and eel and all kinds of sea life while you were having dinner. I think it was one of the most breath-taking places I’ve ever had dinner.
Do you think there’s one city in the world that’s the most romantic?
I really feel it’s not about the environment. If you’re with somebody who makes you feel special and makes you feel loved then I think any place can be amazing. It could even be, you know, like, your home, your balcony, or you know, it doesn’t have to be the most romantic city in the world, as long as you are holding the hand of the person that you want to be with.
What about shopping? Where do you love to go shopping?
I don’t enjoy shopping, I don’t have the patience for it. So I reach out to my stylist and tell her what I want and she goes and buys it. But I love airport shopping. Duty free is my favorite shopping in the world. I spend so much time in airports that I end up buying clothes, bags, everything in duty free.
Is there one good airport? Is there like one amazing duty free store at a particular airport?
Harrods at Heathrow.
Where do you love to perform in the world?
I think the bigger the stage the bigger the rush, so wherever you can get me the maximum audience in the world, that’s where I love to perform. I think for me, one of my most amazing experiences was at Wembley in London. Wherever you get an incredible audience I think I’m ready to perform. I’m ever ready to perform.
Is there anywhere you’ve never been that you really want to go to?
You know I’ve never been to a lot of countries in Africa. I want to be able to do a safari and visit places like Kenya and Mozambique. I’ve filmed in Namibia and I’ve been to South Africa many times but I’ve never really experienced them so I want to do the whole Africa experience. Also New Zealand, actually, that’s another place I want to go to.
Have you ever taken a road trip?
I’ve never really taken a road trip of late, but when I was a kid we took a road trip. There were like six of us in one car and we drove from Indianapolis to Yellowstone National Park and that was the only road trip that I remember in my life. It was so much fun because we were stuffed into a car and we stopped wherever we wanted to. Because it was all family and cousins, and it was a great trip.
You’ve clearly been all over the world. You’ve spent a lot of time in airports but have you ever really truly experienced culture shock?
For me it was like a long time ago. I think I was in the 9th grade. I had just started high school in New York and had just come in from India. That was a huge culture shock for me. Not because I came from India and it’s a completely new culture, but because I think high school would be a culture shock for anyone. I think probably one of the only times in my life I experienced culture shock–was when I went from 8th grade to 9th grade. (Laughs)